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Lessons Begin

Posted on Thu Aug 20th, 2009 @ 12:03pm by Chief Warrant Officer Akina Jrez

Mission: Seraphim Requiem: Season 1, Episode 2.
Location: Cargo bay

Lovi surveyed the assembled faces in front of her. It was hard to tell with so many different species present but they seemed to be all on or near the verge of adulthood. That was as she'd requested and boded well for her stay on SB 611. Explorer had been difficult, balancing the various social and educational needs of children of varying ages. She was a teacher, not a babysitter.
“Good morning,” she said.
The greeting was returned by some but by no means all. Even then it sounded perfunctory. That didn't surprise her. She'd have to build a rapport. Respect came not from the fact that she was a teacher but how she behaved in the role.
“My name is Lovi. You may address me as Ms. Lovi. As you can see, I am a Benzite. As part of our curriculum is the study of alien peoples and their cultures, a good place to start might be Benzar.”
She touched her padd's display.
“On your monitors, you will see a representation of the Benzar system.”
At least that much of a classroom environment was working. Conditions weren't ideal but they were the best that could be hoped for in the circumstances. The Borg weren't about to halt their activities just so that a little education could be conducted. Lovi deemed it important that it be done though. If nothing else, it put some semblance of normal routine into the children's day and while they might object to going to school – what child didn't – normality was good for morale. It was also beneficial to their parents to know that their children were in a safe environment while they were out trying to curb the Borg threat.
She touched the padd again. “Now you will see a portrait of the first Benzite to be accepted into Starfleet Academy, Mordock.”
“Ms. Lovi?”
“Your name, please?”
“B'Enara...M'am.”
“M'am is not necessary, thank you. You have a question, B'Enara?”
“Ms. Lovi, Mordock is wearing some kind of...it looks like a breathing device. You are not wearing one. Why is that?”
“A good question, B'Enara. I will come to that later as it touches on important aspects of our history as well as our physiology.”
She moved away from the monitor so that it would not interrupt the students' view of her.
“Benzar is only a recent addition to the Federation,” she began, “although we maintained cordial relations with the Federation for many decades prior to membership. We preferred an isolationist stance, determined largely by cultural differences we felt to be insurmountable. We are very concerned with concepts like rank and achievement. We are also highly competitive and prefer to work alone. That cuts against the Starfleet ethos of teamwork and co-operation. However, as trade developed and as Benzar began to extend deeper into space, our outlook slowly changed. Officer exchange programs, like the one currently underway on SB 611 between Starfleet and the Romulan Star Empire, accelerated that change. It took time but we found we could work with other species and they found they could work with us.”
As she spoke, Lovi walked back and forth across the space partitioned off for her 'classroom'. Her hands she held clasped behind her back. Her eyes appeared to take on a far away look as if she was lost in her recitation. Every so often she fixed one of the students with her gaze. When those eyes caught and held the student's attention, he or she was left in no doubt that Lovi was fully aware of what was going on in the room.
By the end of the day, Lovi expected to have a good idea of who had natural scholastic ability, who would need encouragement and those for whom some pushing might be in order. It would not be a list set in stone but it would give Lovi a basis on which to approach her charges.
“You will probably have noticed that Benzites are usually shorter than the average humanoid. You will probably have also noted that we can look very similar. Benzites do not procreate in quite the same way as other humanoid species do. Newly gestated Benzite babies are placed in 'birthing chambers' as the final stage of birth. Benzites are not born fully developed and require post-uterine incubation to complete development. Without the chambers, our children would suffer a range of potentially lethal genetic and physiological defects.
“That having been said, Benzites have an institution akin to what most of you would call marriage though we have no equivalent to the 'nuclear family'. This is because, for us, marriage is not used to regulate procreation or to rear children. Couples procreate according to genetic principles not marital status. Neither is the child produced by a particular union raised by its biological parents. As a result, we have no gender based restrictions on marriage. Homosexual relationships are common and have long been seen as being equally acceptable as heterosexual ones.
“Benzite society is therefore organised around the birthing chambers which themselves are organised into geostructures. Because each geostructure maintains its own chambers and therefore regulates the post-uterine development, Benzites from a single geostructure look alike. To non-Benzites, they will appear to have identical facial features, skin shade and so forth. We can tell the difference but only because we are so attuned to the nuances. So Benzites from one geostructure will have green-blue skin, for example; from another, pale blue. You will also find dusky blue, pale blue with silvery undertones and purplish-blue with tan streaks.”
As she mentioned each colour, examples came up on the students' monitors.
“Historically, the geostructures saw themselves as being in competition with each other, just as individual Benzites see themselves as being in competition with other Benzites – and everyone else for that matter. The best analogy would be that they were city states, each fighting to maintain their position and status against all others. Rarely however did it come to all out war except in two notorious cases.
“When it was discovered that Benzite bodies did not reject transplanted organs, geostructures attacked one another to harvest organs for their own transplant programs. The carnage only ended when a group of scientists altered the birthing chambers to force Benzite bodies to always reject transplants.
“In the other instance, two hundred years of mutual destruction followed us discovering ways to 'improve' Benzite physiology to breed super-warriors. Our saviour was a Benzite called Andragov. He formulated a doctrine of peaceful competition whereby each Benzite lists personal objectives then rates them self against it.
“As I said, we are highly competitive. Many of us hunger for commendations and find failure shameful. When working, we are very thorough to the extent that we do not divulge the result of the task until we are sure we have achieved the desired outcome. On Benzite vessels, a fundamental regulation states that no officer is to report an unexplained event until a full analysis has been made and a resolution found.”
The representation of the Benzar system came back up on the monitors.
“Benzar is a Class-M planet but it is unique in that its atmosphere is not the nitrogen/oxygen mix found on other Class-M planets. Its atmosphere is rich in chlorine which we exhale as carbon trichloride. It also contains essential mineral salts. As a result, Benzite blood is based on the heavy metals mercury and platinum. B'Enar, you mentioned what you took to be a breathing device. Your accounting is accurate. Resequencing techniques were recently developed which allow most Benzites to breathe what you would consider a normal atmosphere. It caused controversy but at the Federation Council our representatives argued that the Prime Directive outweighed the Council's stance against genetic engineering in that the Forebears left Benzite's genetically impaired and incomplete when they tampered with primitive Benzite genetic coding. We were granted the right to make a fundamental change to allow us to breathe without the use of those devices. All Benzite children have this change implemented in the birthing chambers. Adults were offered a one-off opportunity to have the resequencing performed. As you can see, I took up the option though not all Benzites did. You will still see breathing devices in use but they are not common.”
She glanced at her watch. “That will be enough from me for now. Any questions?”
“Ms. Lovi.”
“Your name?”
“Chelad, Ms. Lovi.”
“You're full name if you please, Chelad.”
“Cheladarantha ch'Telonkar, Ms. Lovi.”
“Thank you. Now, your question.”
“You told B'Enar that her accounting is accurate. What did you mean by that?”
“That her assessment was correct. She observed, she she applied logic and reason and came to a conclusion to account for the observation. She was accurate in that accounting.”
“I see.”
“Anyone else?”
“Giacinta del Aranto, Ms Lovi.”
“Yes.”
“Andragov? Was he like Surak of Vulcan?”
“That is a good analogy. However, Surak changed Vulcan society in a fundamental way with his philosophy of pure reason and the suppression of emotion. Andragov, on the other hand, took what was inherent in Benzites and turned it into a new channel.”
“Time for one last question.” She saw a hand being held up. “And you would be?”
“Marin Hija, Ms. Lovi.”
“You're Bajoran?”
“I am.”
“In that case, Hija, what would you like to ask?”
“Ms. Lovi, what religion do you believe in.”
A fair enough question coming from a Bajoran. That didn't make it any easier to answer. “Benzites consider religious beliefs an entirely private matter – not one to be discussed with anyone. This therefore will be your homework. I mentioned the Forebears. For this lesson next week you will have prepared a dissertation on the Forebears, evidence for their existence and their role in the development of Benzites as a species. Length will be five hundred words. I will select three students at random to present their essay to the class. Any questions?”
The class was silent – shocked into it in Lovi's estimation. Good. A little hard work won't do them any harm. By the end of the year they'll think five hundred words a doddle. There's potential here if I'm any judge and I intend to see that potential realised.

 

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